I got a mysterious Tweet from someone I don't know after I posted a photo of our recent back yard camping experiment:  "@ringmaster Check out that Flickr gallery using Flickrock!  flickrock.com/asy"

So that's odd.  Why are my copyrighted photos appearing on this other person's web site? Hey, look! All of my friend's public Flickr account photos are being re-published there, too! That's not cool. 

Even worse, it looks like anyone on Twitter that posted a link to a Flickr photo page was a target for their Twitter spam. In fact, more than 200 people were spammed - being told that their Flickr photos now appear on a completely unauthorized site - since I posted my photo!

I tried to politely ask them to remove my photos. Long story short, they got belligerent about doing what is a seemingly innocuous tweak to their code to prevent the URL for my photos from working.  Seriously, it's a single line in their Varnish config, or a trivial change to allow an opt-out list. But no, they feel entitled to do what they want with my photos unless I hide them from search via Flickr's API settings. Here, read the transcript:

I'm not the only person having problems with Flickrock's behavior.

After poking at their site and looking at both Yahoo!'s and Flickr's Terms of Service documents for both my rights/expectations and their permissions/resposibilities, it seems pretty clear-cut that Flickrock is breaking the terms of their agreement with Flickr regarding the use of Flickr's API.  I mean, at the very least, Flickr explicitly forbids the use of "Flickr" as part of a service's domain name!

I subsequently sent a message via Flickr's API Abuse form.  It reads as follows:

I'm reporting abuse on the following pages:




This site is using the Flickr API to publish all of my public copyrighted photos, whether marked "all rights reserved" or otherwise.  I have not authorized this use of my photos, and only found out about it when they sent me a message that I should use their service via Twitter.  Apparently, they are publishing ALL photos of ALL users within their site design, probably without authorization.

Example offending photos that appear on their site at the pages listed above include (but are not limited to):




I politely asked the site operators to remove my photos from the site and they have not.  They have made no offer to remove the photos or restrict access to them at all.  And although it may help protect my photos from this site and others like it, I do not wish to opt out of the Flickr API because I use other services that make use of this API and I authorize their use.  I simply do not authorize Flickrock any use of my photos.

Flickrock is in violation of section a.ii. of Flickr's API Terms of Service (http://www.flickr.com/services/api/tos/ section 1.a.ii.): " In ALL cases, you are solely responsible for making use of Flickr photos in compliance with the photo owners' requirements or restrictions."

I have marked all offending photos (the default) on Flickr as "all rights reserved".  These photos should not be used or displayed anywhere other than where I have authorized them.  I have not authorized Flickrock to display those photos.

Incidentally, the Flickrock site is also in violation of sections 1.b. i., iii., and vi., and 3.a and b., having attempted to replace the essential user experience (photo viewing) of Flickr.com, displaying more than 30 photos on a page, violated the copyright of my photos, used "flickr" in their product name and host name of "FLICKRock", and failed to prominently display the API use notice on pages that actually use the API.

I have discovered that any user's photos (including those of professional, for-hire photographers) are available via Flickrock's interface, not as the result of a useful search, but with the intent to display the photos in a different layout on their own site.

According to the Yahoo! Terms of Service (http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html section 9.b.): "However, with respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services, you grant Yahoo! the following worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license(s), as applicable: ... With respect to photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services other than Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available."

This does not include a license for display on 3rd party websites via API, which I must grant separately to those sites.  Once again, I have not granted that license to Flickrock.

This is a clear abuse of the Flickr API, and Flickrock's rights to use the Flickr API should be immediately terminated, according to the preamble within the terms of use.  I am not only a long-standing pro user of Flickr, but an early adopter of and developer on the Flickr API, and I hope that this matter will be dealt with seriously and promptly, as it undermines not only my copyright to my photos, but Flickr and Yahoo!'s service and reputation. 

Maybe if Flickrock is re-posting your photos (oh, they are), you should send a message as well.


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